for M. W.

Through this window, thin rivers
glaze a steep roof. Rain: a church of rain,
a sky—opaque pearl,
branches gemmed with rain,
houses made of rain.

I am in the kitchen
killing flies against the cabinets
with a rolled-up magazine,
no Buddhist—
I live by insisting on my hatreds.

I hate these flies.
With a restless wounding buzz
they settle on the fruit,
the wall—again, again
invading my house of rain.

their feelers, like hard black hairs,
test the air, or my gaze.
I find I am praying
Stand still for me.
I’ll devil the life out of you.

The human swarm comes in
with wet leaves on their sticky boots.
they settle on me with their needs; I am not nice.
Outside, headlights of dark cars are winding the street.
The mirror over the sink will do me in.

At five o’clock, rain done with, in darkness
the houses gather. In the livingrooms
Batman bluely flickers; the children all shut up,
all but an angry baby or a husband.
The suburb is wreathed in wet leaves.

I forget what I wanted. Was it old music
laying gold-leaf on the evening?
lamplight sweetening the carpet
like honey from Crete: a dream of/door to Egypt?
Something to do with the life force.

December turns the sky to metal,
the leaves to gutter-paper.
Leak stopped, the bedroom ceiling starts to dry.
Its skin of paint is split and curling downward.
There is a fly in this house that will not die.



(From Housework, copyright © 1975 by Joan Larkin. Published by Out & Out Books, Brooklyn, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any medium, print or electronic, without the author’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.)